Poems from an Omnivore; Chicago poet, Cynthia Gallaher

Green Tea’s Ceremony Within

it’s the Asian paradox,
modern, stressed Japanese
seeking refuge in old ways.

some gather in boardrooms
and sip, what millennia ago
was brewed from a handful of leaves

blown by accident
into the emperor’s
hot water kettle.

the way of tea has had its way,
amidst Coca-Cola signs, raging trucks
and the clatter of multi-million

heels hitting concrete instead
of stockinged feet shuffling
inside a garden-side teahouse.

a tea ceremony of the heart takes a deep bow
through each cup imbibed in downtown Tokyo,
to express principles of

harmony, respect, purity, tranquility,
as well as nourish with phytonutrients,
protect with antioxidants, oxidize fat.

another late night under bright lights,
but the tongue tastes tea on hillside forest
on a rainy afternoon, its own chartreuse umbrella.

later, in the mad crush of subway passengers,
the tea drinker’s still virtually seated on a tatami,
to admire a seasonal scroll, listen to the fire,

smell incense mixed with aromas
of freshly whisked matcha, live life
in spite of one’s wabi-sabi urban self.

© 2018, Cynthia Gallaher, All rights reserved

Cool Beans

shade-grown coffee

shields me from the sun


even giant coffee beans

won’t stunt my growth


its daily grind protects me

from my regular foibles


enriching me

in aroma, antioxidants,


benchmarking my weight goal to match

a sack of its unroasted beans – 60 kilos.


there’s something sweet in coffee’s bitterness,

a bright morning in its darkness.


this Ethiopian bean splits

a double-sided headiness


and offer ultimate sips

toward intelligence, concentration,


and as for conversation, it’s sister to gardenia’s

star-like blossoms forming a snowy belt


between tropics of Cancer and Capricorn,

in fruition,


caffeinated sky watchers

stay awake past midnight


to see constellations

even to sunrise


that place in time

where a fresh pot is surely waiting.

© 2018, Cynthia Gallaher, All rights reserved

Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet and playwright, is author of three poetry collections and two chapbooks. Most recently, she made a 10-city book tour with her nonfiction guide & memoir Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poetwhich won a National Indie Excellence Award. The Chicago Public Library lists her among its “Top Ten Requested Chicago Poets.”

She said: “Among other themes and genres, I write food poetry, with my most recent effort being Omnivore Odes: Poems About Food, Herbs and Spices, a chapbook published by Finishing Line Press. The book was the result of studying, researching and working with a variety of spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables and sustainable animal foods.

“My latest effort, a manuscript in the works, Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems About Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices will not include any of the poems from the chapbook but all new poems, including the two that appear on The Poet By Day, namely Cool Beans and Green Tea’s Ceremony Within.

“Regarding my philosophy surrounding my food (and drink!) poetry, I look to foods not only as life-giving nourishment and medicine, but also as a form of perennial cultural expression that remains a source of bonding throughout global communities. I select poem topics with a sense of what can heal as well as nourish, what we can celebrate, how we can bring ritual to every season as well as usher a feeling of gratitude for what we have granted us as stewards of the earth.”